>> the photograph is of one of many american bombings and what were known as a free fire zones and the central part of a vietnam. so one of the strategies that both the americans and the vietnamese in the military employee is an effort and particularly central vietnam to just clear wide swaths of the area. the idea is if you could clear them the national liberation for the soldiers and civilians would not be able to operate as easily as they had. they would be more easily identified and captured or killed. the other idea of the free fire zone is once it was cleared no one is essentially to be in that region, so everybody was the assumption was they were built essentially. that is where that comes from. >> what you teach at the university? >> i teach in part about vietnam and i also teach 20th century
international history particularly u.s. international history. we, unlike many universities still have a core curriculum for the undergraduates. this is something i see columbia and us have and very few people else do and essentially it's two years of the courses and one of the courses for undergraduates is what is called the civilization sequence. ..
>> and were back at the 20 aladdin chicago printers the literary festival. now i her elis cose talks about his book, "the end of anger." [applause] thank you.nk you. ellis, welcome back to chicago. he is a native son. ellis has a new book out. tod put it in some contexts, 18 years ago,n c you wrote the ragf a privileged class, which talked about african-americans --afrcan middle-class african-americans being unfeeling and excruciatini pain was the phrasee phrase. a new book is coming out this
month, the end of anger which basically says okay feeling pretty good. so what happened? what changed? a lot changed. but before i even address that the book is interesting because you're right i did write a book about range, and the fundamental point that one person after another made in that book and conducted well over 100 introduce for the african-americans and the essentials play that went after another wasn't really summed up with i don't care what credentials i have, a how hard i work, what networks i try to get into it's just not possible for me to get past the glass ceiling to the top jobs, not possible for me to be the ceo of the corporation and the president of this country etc.. a couple of things has changed. not too long after rage came
out, which was in i guess it came out in '93, the book itself in '94 and not long after rage came out use of from changes in corporate america you saw a small but interesting group began to rise you saw can become the head of american express. you saw a sort of change in this kosmas. of course with the recent presidential election you saw something that many people of many colors thought would never happen at least not in our lifetimes and that was the election of the president who identified as an african-american. and this is something that i found just interesting is that a new generation has come on the
scene so a lot of the voice is represented in rage are different than the voices represented in the end of anger and the end of the anchor there is a methodology let me just say a couple words about that. because even though i did as i said 104. i did even more for this book and interviews. i conducted a couple surveys. i did a survey of the black alumni of the harvard business school and 74 questions and also a survey of graduates of a program called a better chance which sends people for the most part for from rm areas largely minority of the secondary schools in the country and what i found fascinating as i began to look through the results of the surveys was the difference
how people are responding to questions about opportunity and access as a function of age or generation as i put it. the short story is that those people under 40 and i have a system that i organized where i call these people generation of three people, the people who were under 40 responded quite differently to those who were over 40 in terms of how much discrimination they received in the workplace and in terms of what kind of opportunities they thought were available for them personally and how difficult it was to make it in american society, and so once i saw this interesting general break out in the data we went back and as a small group of researchers we went back and conducted over 130 follow-up interviews with people in the survey in addition to 100
interviews conducted for the book. so it was a somewhat different methodology but the country changed in some ways but also we are looking at a generation to some extent. >> is part of it is generational and part of it is the obama election kind of the capstone to the corporate gains there were made. one of the backdrops i have for the research in this book were a series of studies by the future trust, by "the washington post" indicating that there was a measurable increase in terms of optimism on african-americans. the most recent large poll was done this year and the was a "washington post" harvard poll and continues to show african-americans significantly are more optimistic, one, than they were ten years ago but to,
significantly more optimistic than whites when it comes to looking at how people see the strength of the economy and engage prospect with future and see prospects for themselves a national journal poll said that two-thirds of african-americans in the u.s. said the barack obama's policies would significantly help their advancement the number for whites was 21%, hispanics fell somewhere in the middle but there was quite a gap. >> it's gone down in terms of african-americans saying that obama's election creates more britain these for african-americans. it's gone down a bit since this election and certainly in my own survey it's not as high as 70%. it's closer to a round of 30 or 40% who are saying that it's going to help them, but i also
the fact of the presidency, even if he loses in 2012 will go away. in the reassessment that has begun to take place at least in some minds won't stop, whether or not he went. there would be a lot disappointed people, again, fall colors if if he loses. i don't think it's going to change the fundamental way people are beginning to look at what is possible in the political arena. is ther >> is there a real divide in african-american thought or intellectual immediate? i ask is based on what cornelln west recently dead.
he said obama is a black mascott of wall street oligarchs in at black puppet of the cards and now he has become head of the american killing machine and the sound of it. >> cornell is obviously batfishs ics website added a number of things having to do with obama. i haven't spoken to him aboutmms his particular comments in this case, but he has consistently been a critic, alongcritic certy they are in quite different places at cornell and barack obama. >> i think that it's always been a mistake to assume that any group african-americans are and
is always a mistake to assume people are all going to think the same way. we never have no other group i'm aware of ever had has. there have been differences. what's changed to some extent is the willingness to hear the difference is publicly, and i think that clearly cornell west made the decision that he was quite ready and eager to go public with any number of complaints about barack obama, and i actually think -- some of his complaints were having to do with operation tickets and things like that, but i think that it's healthy he feels free and the people feel free. no president should be above criticism even from a group that he happens to belong to. if you go back some time ago to the clarence thomas nomination, there was a consternation among
much of the black leadership at that point when he was nominated about whether to criticize this guy or not or whether people ought to just stay quiet and in the hopes he would be something they haven't demonstrated that had any inclination to be. whherr not i asall of cornell's criticism is beside the point. he certainly has a right to criticize them and there's nothing bizarre about that and i think it is something very healthy about it. >> i did talk to a number of people in chicago, black-and-white from the left who do complain and say that barack obama can go to egypt and give a speech or he can give a speech in the u.s. on the middle east and the world talks about the middle east for the next so why hasn't barack obama come to the west side of chicago oregon to detroit and talk about urban america? has he missed an opportunity to you think to put those issues
which i think it's fair to say george bush ignored that on a higher plane? >> barack obama has a set of issues the white president doesn't have and i can't look into his mind. i don't know what he's going to do if he gets a second term when barack obama tried to make a point it was a teachable moment after skip gates got arrested at his house by well outside his house actually by the police in cambridge i think he said okay this is clearly a case of de copper overreacting to something he shouldn't have done whether the good professor said to him she wasn't creating a public disturbance, he wasn't a danger to anybody he certainly doesn't need to be in handcuffs, so let me say that, let me use this moment to make some statements
about police behavior when it comes to african-american communities and take this occasion to say that the the police did something stupid. there was a firestorm reaction to that and it broke down very much along racial lines. the vast majority of whites respond to that was dismay and anger and the essentially say the president shouldn't be getting involved in this kind of stuff. one of the issues this president has that clinton didn't have is to be accused of showing favoritism to the racial minorities. clinton didn't have that issue. if you look at the tea party there was a poll done a year and a half or so ago by "the new york times" looking at the tea party respondents. the vast majority of people consider themselves part of the tea party were also agreeing that obama had given way to much
attention to african-americans in the country, we too much attention to african-americans, etc.. so it would be naive to think that he doesn't have this going on in his head. should he make some strong statements and should he have a strong policies as regards to poverty? of course, people claim he does, he just has talked to some other things that clearly that is a major issue and dealing with it as vigorously as with any other issue. >> you brought up the tea party and i feel when you say in the tea party and conservatism is going to cost controversy. i'm going to read a couple of paragraphs from the book. what it all adds up to is an america that is psychologically and politically divided in the most bizarre way. one american celebrating the rise of a black president and the beginning of the end of racism while the other drowns in paranoia and racial fear. in one american anger is mellow
and in the other it explodes and the future seems brighter than ever while in the other is cloaked in gloom. the biggest locus of anger these days seems to be not in the nation's black and brown communities but the white heartland where numerous people are struggling to make sense of what seems to be a world turned upside down as they see as increasingly alien one from which they are growing ever more estranged. >> there are lots of bases for those observations. one being the tea party people themselves, but actually i went out and spoke to a number of tea party people in an attempt to get at what is really bugging these guys and i found. it was like to do you want to take america back from?
the people on washington, what are you angry about? i had a store and people begin to my store and now america's not good for the common man. there was a lot of incoherence and part of what i draw from that is that these people have this outside anchor at things they are not even cannot voice or are uncomfortable voicing and we are looking at a country that demographically is changing. we are looking at a country which obviously is talking for the last what, 20 minutes where you have a person of color in the top job that some people, most tea party people it seems from the poll question whether he was born in the united states. why?
well, i find they prefer to see america represented by a different kind of person that they are more congenial with. they don't like this idea and again this is my take but it's a take it is informed by data. they don't like this idea that these folks who don't represent america back in the 1950's the way america looked back in 1950's are taking over as they see it and so i think it is an attribution to one an exaggeration of how much is being taken over bye whom, but number two, if this sort of anger at other kind of dynamic which also happens to encompass people coming over from the southern border, etc. which on sells a lot of people and says to them this america that is
evolving is not the america that i knew and loved which is the america of the 1950's. so what is going to ease that ander? >> in 2008 in the primaries when he talked about bitter people clinging to their guns and religion and he got enormous flowback he may have lost texas for that. >> i don't think the issue is religion here and in large measure i don't think it begun. i do think the issue is that there are just a hard core set of people who question everything about this presidency and the direction of the country, and i'm not sure that that's going to go away any time soon. i guess the spin on that is the folks stuck in the old paradigm
tend to be rather old. so at some point they're going to give way to some other people >> you write in the book about the impact that riding on the west side when you were a young person had on you >> i'm happy to be back this weekend in chicago, and i came from the west side of chicago in the housing project and so for me, a fundamental part of my childhood was growing up in a neighborhood that was literally set aflame first in 1966 as a result of a disturbance aggravated by the police and then in 1968 the result of course of the fascination of dr. martin luther king. i remember quite clearly as a
very young person walking along madison street which was the main commercial corridor and the neighborhood after that time of their nine hits and still be able to feel the heat from the flame, the five-year that it consumes. there was one day during the 66 riots where we literally had to hit the floor because bullets were flying and we were fearful that something would happen. so not only shaped my view of what was happening in america at that time and the course of a preteen and teenager it shakes you if your community and neighborhood but also of the press in some ways. and it's hard to think that far in some sense. >> each year gets harder. >> yes. >> i basically became a writer of that, and the short story is
that all i remember reading the newspapers at the time even as a kid i did read the newspaper and remember reading the newspaper at the time and thinking that the neighborhood was being reported about in the newspaper. the neighborhood full of thugs and criminals and crazy people was not really the neighborhood that i knew, and thinking that there was a need or at least i received in my ignorance and arrogance i suppose the need for another voice that could inform the discussion, and i went to high school with aspelin technical and at that time when i enrolled and started high school and i sort of thought i would go into some sort of scientific field. i had originally thought my favorite subject was mass but might be something related to
math, maybe business or something like that, and the thing that made me change course was something that happened during my senior year. my senior year in high school, i had a teacher named mrs. clean air and i always had these fights with my english teachers because i thought english was boring and that a large part of it at least taught at leni tech at the time was answering questions i knew the answers to and i considered it a waste of my time. so i had this big battle about whether i was going to do the english assignment, and i remember saying to her in the midst of this heated discussion i didn't see the point during these assignments. they were a waste of time. i didn't see what to do this stuff and she said to me well, okay, you are obviously a bright kid and what you decide to do is
find so what are we going to do here? and i said well, it seems to me that the point of this class is one, to make sure i have an understanding of the english language and research skills and i can make a coherent argument, so why don't you testing on that? she said why don't you mean? i said have me write something. she said fine, what are you going to write? i said why not a history of riots in america. she said okay. and i went off and several weeks later come back with i don't know how long it was that like a 140 page manuscript and she takes it home, comes back the next monday and this is okay i'm going to give you an essay for the course, but i don't -- i'm not really capable of evaluating
this material and i make it from the project. professional what? and she said send it to gwendolyn brooks, you know what it is. i said that is of fort lauderdale illinois. she teaches at such and such college. so i send it to hurt and a few months later i heard from her. she called me and she said look, young man, i don't know what you intend to do with your life and you ought to be a writer and that made something of an impression on me. [laughter] so from there it totally redefined myself and i went on to become a columnist for the chicago ton vv kurson times and might have was set. >> we both know clarence page very well. he tells the story how he got hired on "the chicago tribune"
when the 1969 west side gone up in flames the tribune looked around the newsroom to find out who they could send who knew the west side and there was nobody. clemens gets hired. did you have a similar experience getting into the business? >> not exactly but i think i got in on some of that same energy. the beginning was the 1965 riot. you're talking about a time when for reasons we probably need not go into in depth needed to become most see no need to hire anybody black so they didn't have anybody black on the staff and the "l.a. times" really noticed this when he exploded in 65 and they said we won't be in danger and the only person they can think to send out is the sales person who they say okay
you're not a journalist go out there and cover watts. but he wrote was sort of representing what you expect from somebody that had no idea what journalism was. there were stories like that as the "washington post" and 68 would arrive at the same thing. a few of them had one or two people but most of them had nobody, and so after that there was this sense my god there is a huge story and a huge community. they don't understand it or aren't comfortable out there. we need to hire some people to do it. i was hired a little bit differently. , but then what i did get to high year that as was my first john i was almost 18 with "the chicago sun-times" was as a columnist for something called
viewpoint for schools and they realized they didn't have any voices that were people of color at all on this page and after doing that i got called in to the editor's office and he said to me i've been reading your column in the viewpoint for schools. what do you think starting monday if i give you a column in the reel newspaper? and i sort of looked at him and foley incompetent 19-year-old said that's what i want to do all the time, so sure. that's what happened. so i wasn't hired as a direct result of the riot but there was an awareness at that time in that era that newspapers were at an advantage having no color and
staff. >> we watched this business get shaken to the core and the basic underpinnings of journalism now if you were running coming out of the west side of chicago now would you advise him to go into journalism? >> coming into the west side now why would a first of all say the gerdemann tree is different. first of all, i don't know anybody that got hired the way i did even back then. that was kind of unusual and a tribute i think to what i like to consider the vision of jim hoeven who saw this kid who was eager and in some ways ignorant and said we see something here. let's do something with that. it is contracting particularly print is contracting radically and virtually every large 1i
know of has and the future is jerry uncertain. so if i were advising -- and also, the road to journalism is a little bit different. more and more it's become the path of gentry has become getting a graduate degree from a school at northwestern or going to columbia and getting a degree from there. so you find more and more people of the large institutions of those kind of credentials. i think what i would say to a young person who wants to start on the career today is it could be a hell of a field is so much uncertainty have to be prepared to increase the uncertainty if you're going to embrace this career. >> i would invite you to come up to the microphone and i would be glad to take your questions. >> it's been a struggle to diversify newsrooms and we've now seen as those newsrooms have
shrunk journalists and african american journalism going into alternative fields are you better off these days looking for a.com job than a newspaper or "newsweek"? >> newspaper in "newsweek," those are very different jobs. what we are seeing in journalism is one contraction of mainstream journalism but number two, three different years developing. there are lots of space co.com jobs out there that a one-third but many of the traditional jobs today. so, these are jobs that were going to appeal to people who for the most part are young and willing to work for very little money in the hope that they will leverage this into something better in the future. i think it's a hard call for a lot of people going into this field in particular right now because it is a field in such
flux and journalism was never a profession that you went into to be rich unless you have hopes of being a network anchor or something, but it was a field that not too long ago particularly with a larger publications you could depend on a good career, that is a long the case, and so i think that for young people looking at a profession, the need to acknowledge this and say okay, despite that this is something still were trying to do. >> questioned? >> maybe we should say thanks to photo march, made in the u.s.a. and the audiovisual system which is the microphone stand. i didn't come here prepared to know what you're talking about, i didn't read your books and i assume it was about the black experience. i saw a psychiatrist some time ago in the 70's and i will never forget what he said early on. with regard to my history of
mental problems and implement he said at least you're not black. compare that to barbara par rahman who i saw in the 80s she didn't tell me she was terminally ill with breast cancer and she died at the age of 37 in 1986 and is still living in his 90. >> i am getting to a question but of the words i used before don't overrule my questioning i recommended a book called sex, murder and meaning of life -- >> do you have a question somewhere in there? if people want to hear your book recommendations ensure they can find you after. >> the question is about language. i use merriam-webster. if we don't know the words meaning as we are going to be in trouble. it's like speaking other languages. i don't believe in using words that make us more distance than we have to be. i think we should go back to
negro and caucasian. >> the question? >> it wouldn't be bad for people to be scientifically literate and black-and-white is like should we -- to you think you would be better to talk about this in a way that makes us closer instead of saying black and white or for that matter the opposite sexes that makes us more different than similar? >> sure. okay, fine. do i think you would be better for us to talk about ourselves in ways to bring us closer? of course i do. another question is what that is and i don't think it is as simple as substituting negro for black or caucasian for white. negro is just obviously a mispronunciation which is a spanish pronunciation for black so i'm not sure that is the way to do that but in principle, absolutely. >> [inaudible] obama is good for white people
especially to put him in power for israel. obama [inaudible] illinois has been noted in the chicago reader to have 400 tons in which obama cannot sleep except in jail. >> again, search is there a question? >> considering how racism is indebted in the criminal justice system where you say blacks are diluted to say things are getting better where more than half of people in prison for black. >> that is a good question. i think actually that is a good
question. the bureau of labor statistics just last month released statistics which show that black employment is higher, black employment rather is lower than it has been since they have been kept. we are seeing a situation where in the economic sense african-americans have been hard hit by this current downturn in the recession, and we are also as the questioner in the case over the last 35 to 40 years see a huge uptick in the number of african-americans that have been cursory that and having to deal with a criminal justice system such that its current trends continue roughly one-third of african-american males.
>> the studies that i site don't give any kind of objective assessment of whether things are getting better or not. they talk about people's attitudes and take on one the future which by definition is unknown and number two, with a pre-sivas their options which for many people is broader than it has been. i think that we as a society felt for a long time at least many of us did if we get a handle on racial inequality we will solve the issue of the equality in this society. i think in some respects, not all of them, some are going to get a handle on that issue i think what we are finding is that the issue of inequality is much more complicated than many people thought it was and that dealing with the decline of the
zero and racism which has immeasurably declined is not the same of creating equal opportunity societies. >> you suggest in the book, you break out in generational change that african-americans are still more likely to have been predawn by shady lenders for instance as you see the mortgage crisis now when asked about that and when you talk about the end of anger is there a growing economic divide among african-americans is this people that have succeeded are feeling better about racism or those that haven't succeeded economically feel a lot different? >> you do touch on something he alluded to before >> in answer to that direct question, certainly those who are doing economic and better felt a lot better about their options in life as measured by
my various surveys including mine but even people doing not so well at all if you ask the question are african americans better off now than 15 years ago for instance the vast majority of people say african-americans across class lines say yes they are do you think your children will have a better life than you do? to say yes i think they will. i think on the one hand you do have a sense that the options and opportunities are not nearly as bleak as a function of race than it used to be but you also have people who make a personal assessment based on where they were and where they are. among the states i don't really references. i did a small survey of people who were involved with a group
called the fortune society for people reasonably out of prison or who have been diverted into programs to avoid going to prison and we asked them about their options in life most of them not needless to say are unemployed. they acknowledge they will have a hard time because their prison record getting a job. so people are totally out of touch with reality. that i do have a chapter that deals with the predatory lending and the reason i have that chapter in their as an example of how even policies that on their face are not explicitly racist in any particular we could end up harming particular communities, and i think we have a textbook example in the case of how various neighbors were targeted and various groups were targeted in a way that ended up
devastating those communities and people who happen to own homes and no one ever had to get together in a room and say we are going to target black people to do that. >> i'd like to ask about the education in the united states to your sister-in-law was a co-founder of the charter school network in chicago and many of them including your sister-in-law's network and it's done very well and yet is a very controversial issue still in the city that comes down to an economic divide, ongoing argument whether traditional schools wind up being short changed because the emphasis on alternative schools. >> i don't think it's any question of the schools in boston and new york but i don't think it's any question that a charter school was well designed and that's the important stipulation and the charter
schools also but i think without question the charter schools are well-designed that have the leadership and dedication can do wonders and communities where your public schools have not. they can take care to a lot of schools that essentially have given up on and oriented towards college. first of all get them to believe they can actually go to college which is part of what they need to do in certain areas, and get them unprepared for a life that they otherwise wouldn't have, they just stay in their neighborhood schools but the reality is not unless something radically changes in this country the percentage of people and charter schools will always be a relatively small percentage and so the issue on ec is not that one ought to get rid of the charter schools which in some cases are doing a tremendous job, but we've really need to
wrestle in a serious way with how we make public education better. estimate it's not a far leap to get into what's going on in wisconsin and ohio and indiana and this may go to some of the issues you talk about your sense of what we have a growing divide between the government class and the rest of america. >> in guaranteed pensions and things like that that the taxpayers have to pay for and that now as ever economic ties become less and less certain, certain papers are less willing to pay for that but i think that is overlaid with a lot of issues and ever since the last five that it's been taken has found a greater divide between the top income and the lower quintile.
we are clearly becoming a society where those who have wealth are doing progressively better as those who are doing worse. they are simply screwed up with the picture, and i certainly don't have the answer to that but that goes beyond issues of race. this is something fundamentally screwed up about that and we need to figure out how to get the right. >> we are out of time.
! >> what are you reading this summer? otb wants to know. >> hi, i am jane blair, author of hesitation coils and this summer i am reading bernese armorers, zero through -- "zero to breakthrough" and i'm also reading malcolm gladwell and cosmic warrior >> so, let me get right into it. i will begin by telling you a story. it sounds melodramatic, sounds kind of purple prose, but it's the story, the story of a would-be suicide bomber who lies
in wait outside the home of a man about to leave for church. the assailant sits in his car, ignored by security, but the man's wife comes to the door with a child to see the man often the bomber does not want to strike, so he stays his hand in four days later he was captured. now all make the story completely over-the-top. the man in question, the target was the president-elect of the united states. the only reason why that story is not ridiculously implausible is that it happened. it would be suicide bombers name is richard pavlik is 73 years old and a retired postal worker with the deep hatred countries cdk trade. his target was john kennedy in palm beach. he socked him across the country and on the burning he was holding a switch loaded with seven sticks of dynamite, not in the words of the secret service to level a small mountain.
were it not for checking kennedy's appearance at the door that sunday morning, john kennedy almost surely would've been killed. and there never would've been if president kennedy. the secret service chief at the time said in his memoirs, we were seconds away from that disaster. so then what? some of your look like you might remember. some of you may have read in history, our talk in a month after the election of the youngest let transformational general change from the oldest president to the youngest alike. how would we know what that trauma at a time when violence against public officials was virtually unheard of. how would lyndon johnson went out with a traumatized nation? fairwood roderick kennedy have gone and how at howard johnson with assumptions and a mindset so different from that of john kennedy's have doubtless celebrates? or with the cuban missile crisis? that is one of the questions i try to answer in this book called "the everything changed."
it is a trio of histories that enron politics are these contemporary were some of us. they are all rooted in one common notion and that is that the smallest twist and turn of fate can produce radical consequences. bear witness fictional narratives, not defense but dialogue and with imagined scenes, but they all histories i try to ground and plausibility that are based on the thoughts and beliefs that impulse and mistakes of the players who strung from histories oral histories, biographies and several interviews with people who knew these players. in the common thread is that history doesn't turn on a dime. it turns on a plugged nickel. there were theories about history to focus on geography, climate, natural resources, theology, ideology, mass movements, great leaders. but the smallest random acts of fate are one that we human beings would like to see
patterns in our lives and our history sometimes ignored. but they are two examples i don't do it in the book. one is that on february 15, 1933, just at the sink area arrived a few minutes later than he planned to miami to be, which meant he had to climb up on a chair to see the speaker stand, which meant that when you pull out a weapon, a bystander noticed and jostled him, which meant secondary shot, hit and killed the visiting mayor of chicago rather than his presumed target, president-elect franklin delano roosevelt. i was a matter of a few minutes delayed his arrival. so the five minutes may have meant we would've had his presidentially during the great depression, john nance garner, the speaker of the house, crusty texan with little time, less charisma and capacity to move a nation that was minimal. indeed, there is a book by philip k. and some of you may
know a con man in the high castle, the presents a victory because there is no roosevelt to mobilize the nation. we think back in 1931 when a visiting british politician in new york looked the wrong way while crossing the street, fifth avenue. births look this way, we look that way. hit by a taxi, developed pleurisy in a hospital in a mustang. so slightly different injury, slightly worse illness and it would've been no winston churchill to the britain in its hour of need. so those examples are kind of like inspiration. so i decided to do was write histories, each based on the smallest turn of random chance, east leading to hugely consequential results, each rooted in as possible scenarios i could construct, held hugely by the sometimes startling things i discovered that really did happen in matters great and
and this book come as much of anything is a measure of gratitude to some of the people who have given me this gift of hopefulness and idealism, or teachers who gave me reason to believe in a brighter future, the family and strangers who gave me a reason to believe in the power of kindness. the church ladies on a subset of chicago who gave me a reason to believe in the essence of faith, the voters for that matter who have given me a reason to believe in politics of conviction and many, many others. a friend of mine described this book recently as a love story, which for me was the most powerful complement i could be given. i wanted to write about these people on the lessons they tied me for two reasons. first, because they have done more than help me succeed good they've helped me want to be better, be a better leader, a better husband and parent, better citizen. and secondly it is within each of us to pass these kinds of lessons onto others. in fact, we've a generational
responsibility to do just that. as some of you know and as he was alluding to in the introduction, i grew up on the south side of chicago in the 50s and 60s, most of that time on welfare. my mother and sister and i shared a two-bedroom tenet met with her grandparents in various cousins who came and went. my mother and sister had lived in one of those bedrooms and shared a set of bunk beds to go from the top to the bottom, every third night on the floor. sometimes i let public schools. but we had a community because those are days that every child was under the jurisdiction of every single adults on the block. remember that? you messed up in front of ms. johnson shoot straight me about an call your home and you got it two times. i think what those adults are trying to get across to us as they had a stake in us and that membership in the community was understanding the state each of
us have, not just in our own dreams and our own struggles, but in her neighbors as well. given the expectations that much of society has for poor, black people in the circumstance of like mind, i am not supposed to be where i am today. my story is improbable. but it's at the same time a distinctly american story. and i may not get told as as often as they take in this country, but it gets told more often than any other place on earth. it is a defining story. in 1970, i got a breakthrough program called a better chance to go to the academy. for me that was like landing on a different planet. i saw for the first time the night before classes began in 1970, all by myself. my family didn't see it until graduation day. i remember they had a dress code in those days. the boys were jackets and ties to classes.
my parents splurge on a brand-new check ever meet were to class. the jacket on the southside of chicago is a windbreaker. so the first day of class all the boys put on their blue blazers and codes in there as i in my windbreaker. i want to point out that i figured it out. i struggled but there were teachers and other adults who reached out into how. i went on to harvard college, the first in my family to go to college, to harvard law school. i've lived in chicago, boston, los angeles, new york, here in d.c., atlanta, sudan, doing business all over the world. i've had some remarkable experiences come improbable ones in the eyes of many. i've argued in the supreme court that hitch rakes from cairo to khartoum. as counsel to presidents, served as the first leg of the massachusetts on my first time running for office. but as i reflect on each of these experiences, each has its
roots in the lessons i try to write about in this book. these lessons have given me a sense of the possible and that has made all the difference. i write in the book about the transition from the southside of chicago to milton academy, the experience of trying to bridge these very different world, were each one seemed to demand that you reject the other as the price of acceptance in the one and how important it was for me to understand ultimately that was a false choice. i writes about the ways the old ladies in big cat in church back home taught me to see faith is not so much what you say you believe, that how you live. i read about the extraordinary courage and strength of my wife, diane commit to her first marriage to an abusive husband and i told my early days in public office took her and how her triumph has strengthened not just me, but thousands of others.
time and time again, experience is a great trail even turmoil have produced transcendent power and they have contributed to my idealism. i want to defend and encourage that kind of idealism because i think it is under these people to make what seems improbable possible. that may sound corny to some of you, especially in hard ridden washington d.c., but in fact, there is nothing at all corny about hope. and there is nothing at all empowering or ennobling about the alternative, about pessimism. in fact, as governor it has been a sense of the possible this helped us achieve many remarkable things against more than customary odds. in this exceptionally cynical times, people are hungry for something more positive and affirming than the steady diet of know that they care.
it has implications on both a policy level and a personal level. on a policy level without a renewed sense of idealism, with all the risk of failure and disappointment that that entails an essential part of the national terror are can-do spirit will be in jeopardy, when none of the big challenges facing this country will successfully be faced. >> we asked, what are you reading this summer? here is what you had to say. ♪ ..